White coats: How long should doctors wear them?


Medical While coat contamination increases progressively with the duration of use, there are no guidelines on how frequently medical white coats should be changed. The purpose of our study was to examine the turnover of individual batch of medical white coats in a university hospital.

Study design and methods

A retrospective analysis of the white coat turnover of 826 physicians was performed by using the hospital laundry computerized database and an electronic declarative survey (240 responses) to evaluate the duration of medical white coat use.


There was a wide discrepancy between the data extracted from the laundry database and those from the survey. The median factual duration of use (20 days, range: 15–30) corresponding to a turnover of 2 (1–2) coats per month, was widely underestimated by the physicians. Multivariate analysis identified 4 independent factors associated with a declared use of coats longer than 7 days: estimation of insufficient gown turnover,daily change considered as not useful,non-medical specialtyand presence of stains on gowns.